Bubonic Plague Essay: Literary Reflections on a Pandemic’s Wrath

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The bubonic plague better known as the black death was a bacterial disease and was helped spread by wild rodents. The plague played a big role in the fourteenth century killing about one-third of Europe’s population, this played a big role in the literature writings of the time. It also took a toll on one of the most famous writers in literature William Shakespeare. The plague affected him personally taking the lives of relatives and friends. The black death took part in a few of our previous readings from our literature book including the Pardoner's Tale and Federigo's Falcon.

The bubonic plague took place more than once between the fourteenth century and the nineteenth century. Focusing more specifically in the late 1340s to the early 1350s. During this short time period it took many lives. This disease began in China it is believed to have started from many earthquakes, flooding, and famines which caused the rats infected with the yersinia pestis bacterial disease to leave their shelters in search of food and shelter to live in. This forced them to come in contact with domestic rodents. (The book the black plague)

It was then spread by twelve ships that docked in Messina which is at the bottom of Italy near the “toe” of the “boot” in Italy. When the ships docked many of the people aboard were dead and the rest of the passengers were very sick and covered with black boils that had blood and pus coming out of them. People had heard talk about the disease happening from trading and trade routes but never really experienced it. In a short time the disease really took over Italy’s population and the the plague began to spread all throughout Europe. The plague was a bacterial disease that was easily spread by rats and fleas. When the rats with the disease would die the fleas feeding off the rats would need a new food source so they would go to the humans giving them the disease from the rats.

This disease was very easily spread so it did not matter where you lived or who you were everyone was easily affected by this terrible disease.

In the Pardoner’s Tale death is brought up many times throughout the story. Everyone is fearful of Death because it does not care who it kills or affects as stated in the story, “Who kills us all round here, and in a breath.” (Chaucer) Although Death is perceived by the three men as a person, the tavern-knave was referring to the plague, not a man. They go off in search for the so-called man ”death” because as it says in the story, ”He’s killed a thousand…,”(chaucer) including one of their old friends and they were not going to let this man kill anymore. The three men went out in search for death but because they beca, me greed death took them as well. it was in a different way than others in the story but it still added to the large death toll from the black death of the time.

Everyone during the story was worried about dying from the plague because it was believed that it was sent down for their sins. In fear of dying the people go to the pardoner and pay him so their sins are forgiven not realizing that no matter what they do or how much they pay they cannot stop this deadly bacterial disease whom they called death.

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Bubonic Plague Essay: Literary Reflections on a Pandemic's Wrath. (2019, Jul 15). Retrieved July 16, 2024 , from

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